Virtually surround yourself with positive people.

These are challenging times for everyone, whether you own a business, work for someone, are self-isolating or because you are worrying about you, yours, or your community. The COVID-19 virus  is undermining our society at a very basic level, and there are many of us who face a very real risk.

One of my rules for life is to surround myself with positive people. I find they help me with the various challenges, be they personal or with my business. My initial thought when the ban of meetings was announced was “Aaarrrgghh!” My business is all based on face-to-face meetings and it won’t come as any surprise when I say that I fundamentally believe in meeting people face-to-face.

However, I was amazed at the positive reaction I received from members when we made all our meetings virtual.  This is a temporary measure, and we will return to the old format when all this malarkey is over, but for now we meet using Zoom (other systems are available) each sat in our homes and offices. Looking smart—at least from the waist up—and sharing support, knowledge and information. In fact, all the things that we gain at our usual meetings. But this way we stay safe and well and in touch with other businesses. Since we work under the Chatham House rule (what is said at a meeting can be told to others, but not who said it) and those people who are still choosing to visit can talk about their concerns. At the meetings I have attended in the past week people have also, I have noticed, shared personal concerns as well as business concerns.

I have also noticed that some, after the initial aaarrggghh moment, day or few days, have started to look at other options for doing what they already do, or at how they might do things completely differently, and some have already given up. Now, before anyone takes offence at that last sentence let me say that I know that some businesses will not survive. However, my belief is that if you try, desperately sometimes, to find the positive, however small that is, that helps. It also helps if the people around me are looking for the small positive too. It also means that when we each reach that aarrgghh moment again the positive people around are supportive and helpful and when it is their turn I can reciprocate.

I hope you and yours are safe and well. If I can help in any way let me know how and, if you want more information, have a look at my website:

Selling through the room

I was talking to a contact recently and used the phrase “Selling through the room”  They said they did not know what this meant. I realised that, in any industry, we use jargon that we assume others understand, and I had just fallen into that trap.

I have a belief that responsibility for successful communication is with the person doing the communicating.  I had used “selling…” phrase before and have assumed that the person I was talking to understood the jargon. So, in the past week, I have reviewed all my presentations on networking, my blogs, my postings and the notes I use when having a 1-2-1.  I have made a commitment to taking jargon out of my communication, or at least not assuming everyone understands the jargon being used.

Someone happy to ask the question “What does that mean?” has really helped me to improve my communication.

And, by the way, the phrase “Selling through the room” means doing business with the contacts of people you meet, not necessarily the contact themselves.

How do you deal with jargon?

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Three stages of networking

I do a lot of networking and I treat each event as a business meeting, and I always prepare for business meetings.  At each event there is the possibility that I will meet the best contact I have ever met, and that’s what excites me about networking.

Here are three stages I use:

The first stage is prior to the event: when I accept an invitation to an event, I book some extra time after the event into my diary, so I don’t have to rush off. If there is s delegates list I look through and see if there is anyone I would like to take more time to talk to and I will contact them and ask if they would like a 1-2-1 after the event.

If there isn’t anyone who I want a 1-2-1 with at that time, then I can just spend more time with people at the event.

Stage two is at the meeting. I use my 3/3/3 rule (See

After the meeting I move into stage three, I continue to develop the relationships with people I have met at the event. First, I email everyone who’s card I have and thank them for their time, ask did they find the event productive, send them any information I have agreed to send them, sometimes this is information about one of our Groups, sometimes information about the ad-hoc networking events we arrange that are not part of our core business.  (I always ask someone when they give me their card if they are OK with me sending them information) Occasionally I will suggest a 1-2-1.

Whatever the email says I always make contact after any event, and yes it takes time, but since the point of networking is starting and developing relationships, it seems obvious to me that this is part of successful networking.

What do you think?

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The more the merrier?

My business is business networking, we have Groups who meet every two weeks and there is membership. We also have a maximum number in Groups of 25 and our Groups start small and grow organically to that number. When people contact me about visiting a Group one of the questions I am often asked is “How many are in the Group?” To me this is based on the idea that the more people you have in a room the more chances there are of getting business. That has never been my experience.

I have been to networking events of over 600 people and a) You could not hear yourself think b) It was all sell, sell, sell and c) I did some great networking with the small group of people who sought peace in the bar.

My Groups are small, start small and remain under 25, and we do have a waiting list so I could choose to get more into some of our Groups. Why this decision? When I network I want to meet people who are there to build relationship, share knowledge, give support and then, when there is a strong mutual trust, refer people. The important part of this is building relationships, and I think this is best done, at any one time, with a small number of people.

As a business owner, it could be argued, that I should want to get really large Groups and make the most money. I disagree. I want my members to get the most from the business networking they do in their Groups and from the membership they pay. Within any one of my Groups there is a ‘Feel’ almost impossible to pin down but based on a mutual support of each other and on the strong relationships that have been developed. So, what I want for the members in my Groups are not just numbers of people there but of people who understand that building relationships is the most important thing about business networking. This is not a numbers game.

What do you think?

Have fun.

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Why bother with business cards?

I recently met someone at a business networking event who said “I don’t have any business cards, because I think they are a waste of money” he went on to explain that people tended to remember him and, if they wanted to know anything about his business, they would find him if they searched online. I was amazed. My business is business networking and so that’s what I do. In a working week I can meet perhaps a couple of hundred people and whilst each person I meet is memorable in some way, I’m human so  people I haven’t met before can be forgotten or I can misremember the name of their company. When making contact with them after the event it is the business card that is vital Why? Because I look at their business online, look them up on Linkedin and connect*, and then make appropriate contact by email. Appropriate? Some people may have asked to attend one of my meetings, others have asked to be invited to our corporate events, and some I have already met, and we are along the road of building a strong working relationship.

Anyway, back to the business cards. I know that these days people have various ways of collecting information electronically from the business cards of people they meet. That is great, but there needs to be a business card to collect the information from. So my advice to people who don’t have business cards, or people who just have a telephone number on theirs? Accept that we are all fabulous and all forgettable and help others help you and your business by having a business card, it won’t be a waste of money. Honest.


*Recently told about ‘Find nearby’ on Linkedin If you, and the person you are talking to, both have the Linkedin app on your phones: both open them, tap the My Network tab. Tap Find nearby at the top of the screen. Genius!

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Why should you invite people to networking events?

As the owner of a membership business networking company it could be said that, of course I want members to bring along people who might become members, and that is true. So why should members do this? As a networker we all want to be the person who people come to when they need some product or service, someone who people see as someone who knows people. Why? Because if someone asks me if I know a plumber, they are also going to ask me about my networking if they decide they want to review the networking they do. I recommend all types of networking to all types of people and, while I hope they will choose my company when they decide on a membership type of commitment, I accept that my type of networking, relaxed, informal, but business-focussed with no pressure, is not for everyone. Some people need a formal style and pressure, while others need a less structured approach, to get the most from their networking.

One of my Group Directors (GDs) told me that, when they network outside of ebn, they talk very briefly about their own business and ask instead “What other networking do you do?” This means they get to hear of other networking which they might not know about, and also means that they can talk about ebn and offer an invitation. Why should they do this? Because if the invitation is accepted and the visitor attends, the GD can then talk about their business as part of the meeting and surrounded by people who have used their services and who can recommend them. Since it is always better for others to say good things about your business, rather than you (The “You would say that wouldn’t you” syndrome) the trust is build a little quicker.

Another reason why we should all invite people to good networking events is that this helps build the relationship. If you tell me about an event, I attend and have a productive time there, I think more highly of you, the business relationship becomes stronger and who knows where that might lead for both of our businesses. If we attend a network event together we might spend some time together, particularly if this is a relatively new business relationship, but we shouldn’t stay together. We are there to meet others. It might be that I introduce you to someone with whom there might be a synergy between your businesses. If we find we have lots more to say then we should arrange a date to have a coffee sometime. 

So invite people to good networking events, the organisers will thank you (another benefit) and so might the person you invite.

If you want more networking tips go to:

Have fun.

What is networking all about?


Networking is a means of meeting people and building relationships. Once relationships are strong then work will flow, but remember it is not about what work can be done between the people in front of you…that is probably very little. However none of us live in a bubble, we all know people and we all have customers. It is about who do we know, who do they know, and what work can flow from these connections. That’s what makes networking exciting; as you walk into a networking event you could meet someone who could change your life by the amount of business they give you.

So, is it just about getting business? No it’s not. I believe that ultimately that is what we network for but what we may find:

  • Confidence:  the more you do it the easier it should get, because you will hone your skills and each type of group allows you to hone different skills.
  • Skills:  how to talk to people about your business. Each event will provide different ways of telling people about your business, but in my experience all events include “open networking”.
  • Meeting people who have a wealth of experience in their field. In my experience people are generous with their knowledge. The challenge is always to learn, whilst not expecting people to endlessly give for free. I have found the more referrals I have given the more people are prepared to share their knowledge.
  • A network of people who do things. So if you, or one of your customers or friends, needs a plumber for example,  you will know one. Or you will know someone who knows one, and just think if  you help potential or existing customers  source suppliers what happens when they need what you do? They come to you.
  • Friends. Over the years I have made many friends through networking and attended some good social events…but that is not why I network. Networking is ultimately about getting work.

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Have fun.

The 3/3/3 rule

When talking to people about my system of networking I am often asked “How do you manage a room full of people” This can be daunting, even for the most confident or experienced networkers. My advice is: First gather your thoughts and your positive attitude before you walk in, just before you get out of the car is a good time and place, walk in with a smile, don’t overdo it or you’ll look scary, and have a plan. My plan is I follow my 3/3/3 rule:

Category 1. Talk to three people you know really well but don’t stay with them, which is always tempting. Long day, long week, stress at work; you could stay in your comfort zone. Don’t do it. If needs be arrange a 1-2-1 with them and then move on. You might want to ask people you meet the question “Who (what type of company) are you looking for?” If you have already met someone who matches the description, you can make the introduction. If not, look out for them as you continue to network. Also ask people “Is there anyone you have met here that you think I should meet?” if the answer is Yes get them to introduce you.

Category 2. Talk to three people that you may have only met once or twice. This enables you to develop the business relationship further. Arrange a 1-2-1. Call it ‘having a coffee’ if 1-2-1 sound too formal. Stay with them longer than people in category 1 because the relationship is not yet as strong and needs to be developed. Move on, but before you do, go through the part in italics of category 1 above.

Category 3. Talk to three people you have never met before. This can be a bit scary, but you are all there to network and they may be relieved to not have to approach someone they don’t know. If you really can’t do this, talk to the organiser. Make sure they know what you do and ask them to introduce you to someone with whom there might be synergy, so you can work together. Stay even longer with them than either of the people in category 1 or 2 because the business relationship is just starting. But do move on and before you do, go through the part in italics of category 1 above.

Recently I was told my 3/3/3 rule was the thing that had helped the person I was talking to the most. When I told them that this was something I had devised I received profuse thanks and another business relationship was made stronger. When typing that last sentence, I suddenly thought, “Did someone tell it me and I have forgotten?”, so I Googled it (other search engines are available) and came up with stuff about routing cables, so I’m still pretty sure it came from my brain. I am sure people will let me know if I am wrong.

So I offer you my 3/3/3 rule. Once you have met and talked to nine people you can, if you wish go, back to your office…or you could go round again.

If you want more networking tips go to:

Have fun.

Why should you wear a name badge?

At a recent networking event I spoke to someone who said they never wear their name badge, because they thought it made people lazy about remembering names. I always wear a name badge and so I started to think about why I do. There are three main reasons.

The first, and I think the most important, is that I think we all have moments when we can’t remember a person’s name or where they work. A quick glance at a name badge and we relax into the conversation rather than some part of our brain wondering what the missing details are. This means we can concentrate completely on what is being said, and surely that aids communication and building relationships?

The second reason is that people know what to call us. So, we may be a Matthew on our business card because it is company policy, but everyone knows us as Matt. Having a name badge with ‘Matt’ showing gives people permission to call us by the name we are most comfortable with. In a previous career many people called me Glen and, at that time, only my mum called me Glenys. My name badge showed Glen and for me it would have been strange to be called Glenys at work, which is the name I had to use on my business card.

The final reason (and this might just be me) is that my name badge is part of my networking ‘uniform’: professional outfit, business cards and name badge. Ready to go.

So, what do you think? Are you a name badge wearer or not and, whichever camp you stand in, why is that?

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Have fun.

What is a robust networking strategy?

When meeting new members, I always talk to them about my definition of having a robust networking strategy. The first part of this is to actually have a strategy, otherwise how can you know whether what you are doing is worth doing?

For me this kind of strategy includes three types of networking:

  • Type 1: Cheap or free

These are held at various times of the day and may involve you buying a drink, or paying a fee on the door, or may be free because of sponsorship of the event

  • Type 2: Relatively expensive, to very expensive

The type that, if you were to do it every day, or every week, would be an expensive marketing tool. This type is almost always a sit-down meal, perhaps once a month or less frequently, and again may have an element of sponsorship.

  • Type 3: Membership

When I meet someone networking and they say “Oh, I don’t join anything” what I hear is ‘hunter’, and by this, I mean someone who is there only for themselves. Whereas true networking is about building relationships and being part of a give and take environment. Obviously, I would like it to always be that people are members of ebn, but if someone tells me they are a member of another networking company I know that they have made a commitment to a company rather than just going to see what’s in it for them.

Why should there be this mix?

There needs to be a mix of networking types because if you want to meet a wide range of people and companies, and they only go to one type, then you are never going to meet some of them if you only stick to one type.

Whatever you do, review your networking as you would any marketing. I think the review should be based on the question “Is it worth it?” Some people talk about ROI and mean money. For me ROI can also mean learning something that assists my business, meeting someone who becomes a supplier and enables me to get on with my core business and building relationships who support me and my business.

If you want more networking tips go to:

Have fun.